Download HOLLYWOOD. epub

by Gore Vidal

Download HOLLYWOOD. epub
ISBN: 0586209697
ISBN13: 978-0586209691
Category: Literature
Subcategory: Contemporary
Author: Gore Vidal
Language: English
Publisher: Grafton Books; New Ed edition (1990)
Pages: 560 pages
ePUB size: 1535 kb
FB2 size: 1219 kb
Rating: 4.4
Votes: 490
Other Formats: azw mbr lrf rtf

Lincoln and Burr were both Excellent and Insightful books. I read them voraciously and left with a feeling of intimacy with the characters.

This novel is less compelling, and does not deal with a single Historical figure, which is in keeping with the title. It is also less well written. I find it odd to find sentences split by narration. It is done constantly in this book and becomes annoying.

Also, one can clearly see Vidal's political agenda. Gay men are everywhere and everyman; popular opinion is always and ever shaped by Media; and Government Control of Media is complete and hypocritical.

What fascinates me is his vast knowledge. I was truly surprised to find the true story of Austrian Scandal pre-WW I.

The book begins with breaking furniture from Salzburg and ends with the Story of Crown Prince Rudolph. (Mayerling).
Vidal is a fountain of knowledge and what he does not know, he simply makes up.
This book provides several leitmotifs from the perspectives of several major fictional characters (Caroline Sanford, Blaise Sanford, and James Burden Day) that easily intermingle with the era's most historical non-fictional figures. With uncanny serendipity, each fictional character is able to find themselves engaged with every major political player at the exact moment they are making a major international decision. As there is no real historical figure to personify the influence of Hollywood on global politics, only Vidal's historical fiction can investigate the connection. His main character, Caroline Sanford, a.k.a. Emma Traxler, has an impossibly rich life transgresses the boundaries of American socialite, newspaper mogul and movie starlet. All while raising an illegitimate daughter and having affairs with America's most powerful men (two directors and a senator). Wow! What a woman!

The story covers the transition from the pre-World War I presidency of Woodrow Wilson through the convoluted election of his successor, Warren Gamaliel Harding. As the Presbyterian Minster turned History Professor turned quixotic dictator, Woodrow Wilson, personifies utopian ideals of "peace without victory" and "League of Nations" while insulating himself personally from Americans. Wilson is the main non-fictional character of the book, but is neither portrayed as a villain or hero. He is an apparent victim; a man with vision and ideals, but unable to navigate the ruthless power struggles with Teddy Roosevelt nor the recent Republican majorities of the congress and senate. The League of Nations becomes a logomachy for the political advancement among party power brokers rather than a realistic foreign policy. The 1920 presidential campaign was characterized less by the stature of the candidates who ran but by the stature of those who could not run (Teddy Roosevelt -died suddenly; Woodrow Wilson - stroke). Warren Gamaliel Harding is, at best, the third most popular candidate in the 1920 Republican Primary. He is the ideal "middle of the road candidate" who prefers the sports pages to the editorials election and is addicted to chewing tobacco. As everyone's second favorite, he is able to slip past two more popular candidates at the republican convention, then easily pass an unsupported democratic candidate, who never has a chance because Woodrow Wilson refuses to pull out of the race, despite his physical and mental incapacities. An appreciation I have for Vidal is that he dispels the myth that political futility has only occurred in the last twenty years. Through his American Chronicles Series, he truly illustrates that politicians since George Washington have been caught in the organization of government and have found themselves spinning their myriad wheels frantically in the mud, going no where. Self-promotion, deception and manipulation were as prevalent for the founding fathers and their rowdy successors as they are today.

However, the common focus of the book is the examining a fledgling American Empire that is bent on expanding its capitalist markets while professing democratic demagoguery. For Vidal, America's top export is its military. Despite an isolationist bent and fear of foreign entanglements, America is a burgeoning market looking to expand. Although the League of Nations makes rational sense and had supporters on both the Republican and Democratic parties, it was implausible because "Americans are too used to going alone in the world. You're also at the start of your own empire, and no rising empire wants to commit itself to peace when there are still so many profitable wars to fight (p. 119)." Hence an ongoing theme for Vidal: ongoing demagoguery for democracy while implementing militant actions with the intent of enriching the nation. Not so coincidently, the term "gilded" is ubiquitous in a not so subtle illusion to Mark Twain's "Gilded Age." America is a world power with a perceivably dominant military, but still a neophyte to the international power business and the American citizenry is largely folksy, ignorant and superstitious. Vidal further points out the hypocrisy of America's "freedom" while implementing quasi-fascist legislation including the Espionage Act, Prohibition and Selective Service. There has always been tension in America between individual rights and the common good; however, the decisions about "common good" usually come at the leisure and advantage of the reigning political elite.

In his elitist style, all decisions are made by an exclusive star chamber of the rich and educated social superiors. As in past novels, senatorial cabals interplay with corrupt Party power-brokers to create historical events. For Vidal, "the American voters" act as a singular player; a pawn moving at the whim of the newspapers and politicians. Often, Vidal portrays the intent of American politicians as being as much to deceive the American voters as our enemies. For example, the Committee on Public Information was established to propagandize for the war. In this vein, Hollywood is introduced and becomes a new national player. The few small towns on the west coast become influential in international politics as the wealthy (William Randolph Hearst) and powerful (Colonel George Creel) discover that if Americans can be easily influenced by what is on the printed page, then they will be exponentially seduced by what they see on the silver screen. Vidal connects the celebrity endorsements of Liberty Bonds, which predominantly funded the effort for World War I, with the propaganda movies that vilified international enemies; first, the "Huns" of Germany, then, the "Reds" of Russia.

I would warn readers that this is first and foremost a novel of historical fiction based primarily on the political events of 1917 through 1920. If you are primarily interested in the industry of Hollywood during that era, I would recommend looking elsewhere. Hollywood is merely a tangential player in the novel "Hollywood" in that the fledgling industry propagates the political manipulation of the masses. Actors, actresses, directors and studio moguls of the times are mentioned but are not primary players. For example, Vidal provides a great monologue of Charlie Chaplin as he flits through various characters in a Robin Williams-esque manner. However, smoke filled meetings of strategizing senators are the scenes of climatic intrigue, not the dynamics of a growing silver screen industry.
This was the first book I read by Gore Vidal and I liked enough to read a dozen more. This period was obscure to me, and he brought refreshing insight into the turn of the 20th Century. I liked his characters and his insights into real political figures. This is one of the best in his Empire series, the others being Burr and Lincoln. The other four are not nearly as well done.
With an absolute grip on detail, Gore Vidal describes an era: the presidencies of Woodrow Wilson and Warren Harding. Vidal's storytelling skills are venerable, however, the text often reads like a stream of consciousness rather than one marked by satisfying conclusions on his characters' actions. Rather than being swept up in the narrative, I kept getting lost in the vast number of characters introduced. Vidal's incisive wit seems to have been tempered by age to the point of blandness at times.. Hearst, Hollywood, Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt drift through the pages without bringing impact to the story.
I still love anything Vidal writes, but this book disappointed me.
Judith Clancy
Kyoto, Japan
Gore VIdal is often overlooked in today's reading choices, but I have recently started ordering his books form Amazon,and am enjoying all of them. I especially like being able to decide on a book choice, then have it arrive within two days (thanks, Prime).
Fortuitously conceived, beautifully executed. The continuation of the American experiment moves into the age of mass media. Newspapers and then movies.
great history on the "20's,, gotta keep your head into it!!
Not really up to other Gore Vidal offerings. I was a little disappointed.